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Thorny talent takes over

The public face of the National Confederation of Parent-Teacher Associations is to be entrusted next year to Sean Rogers, an independent-minded Labour activist with a talent for irritating those in authority.

In May, Mr Rogers takes over as chairman, where his knowledge of the school system will be valued. Before this appointment, Mr Rogers's main claim to fame was his suspension as a Trafford councillor by the national Labour party .

The events that led up to his suspension are the subject of some dispute, but they appear to include unflattering remarks made by Mr Rogers about Beverley Hughes, the leader of Trafford council and a parliamentary candidate.

Understandably, Mr Rogers's view of the episode is that the Labour group was keen to silence him because he was not prepared to toe the line on education policy. It would seem the action was the culmination of a number of run-ins Mr Rogers had had with the Labour group during his 12 years on the council, many of them as the party's spokesman on education.

The decision not to stand for re-election this May leaves him more time for the NCPTA, an organisation he joined in 1988, when the first of his three daughters started school. He was a parent representative on Sir Ron Dearing's review of the national curriculum.

As a parent, he has had to deal with the problem of whether to enter his child for the local grammar school or send her out of the borough. In the end, the choice was left to her and she travels 11 miles a day to a comprehensive in Cheshire.

In principle, Mr Rogers is opposed to selection, but he also objects to the way the system works in Trafford. The pass rates vary across the borough, depending on the number of grammar school places.

Mr Rogers works as an education consultant. These days, schools often employ him to advise them on ways of presenting their inspection reports to parents, but governor training used to be his mainstay. He moved into education management after working as a geography lecturer in a further education college.

He wants to improve the information given to parents and thereby increase parental involvement. While fund-raising will remain an essential function of PTAs, Mr Rogers wants also to see a better return for parents who give up their time.

The NCPTA is not about to become political, but there might be more politics. Mr Rogers is nothing if not controversial.

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